Vigil held for SF firefighter in critical condition

June 3, 2011 7:41:31 PM PDT
A bedside vigil is continuing at a hospital for critically injured San Francisco firefighter Tony Valerio. Valerio's condition didn't change overnight -- they're pleased he didn't worsen, but were also hoping to see some progress. A uniformed officer has been at Valerio's side ever since Thursday. The fire department has promised to make sure that he is never alone.

"One of us is down and there are 1,500 of us. If we said to come to the hospital, there would be all, expect for the 300 that are on duty, in the hospital. We need to coordinate so we don't get in the way of the rest of the hospital," said San Francisco Fire Dept. Deputy Chief Pat Gardner.

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White also paid the injured firefighter a visit this morning -- after staying at his bedside until late last night.

"Firefighter paramedic Valerio remains about the same -- which is pretty grim, but we're all hoping for a miracle and holding out hope," said Hayes-White.

Valerio and his colleague Lieutenant Vincent Perez were the first firefighters to rush into a house in San Francisco's Diamond Heights neighborhood yesterday morning. Firefighters suspect a flashover may have happened and overcame the men. Perez was killed.

"We have a team working around the clock to figure out the origin, and if the flashover is what happened, which is likely that's what it was," said Hayes-White.

It definitely came as a surprise. The chief says when she got the text about the fire, she wasn't particularly worried.

"It seemed like a pretty routine fire. We've had much more complicated fires. This one was a single family dwelling we get them all the time," said Hayes-White.

She said when she then heard two firefighters were down - it was surreal.

"We're devastated this is a tough time. Since I've been chief we've never had a line of duty death, and to have one yesterday, and Lieutenant Perez and to have Tony fighting for his life -- it's hard to talk about ," said Hayes-White.


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